LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – APRIL 2017:
Mark Cochi runs RDR Audio and RDR Location Recording in upstate New York. As an in-demand live sound mixer for television, Cochi has the freedom to devote his well-appointed studio – both in terms of fantastic gear and inspiring aesthetics – to musical acts that speak to his artistic soul and to audio-for-video post-production projects that challenge his skills. Honed by nearly thirty years in the business, those skills come with the calm assurance of an engineer who has a lifetime of successful work to his credit. A few years ago, Cochi stepped up the monitoring in his studio to active three-way ATC SCM25As, which now give him fatigue-free sessions and effortless translation. He recently brought his 5.1 post-production work up to the same standard with five of ATC’s new two-way SCM12 passive monitors.
“In my live sound mixing role, I have a prearranged target that I need to hit, which doesn’t leave a ton of room for creative input,” Cochi said. “In my studio, I’m much more of a purist. I prefer to record a whole band performing live. I’m not into trickery, and I’m not into a lot of comping of parts. I’d rather have someone play a part a half dozen times to get it right than have to stitch things together. Since I’m not making my living doing this, I have the freedom to try and get the artists working in that mindset on these kinds of things.”
Like many, or perhaps most, engineers, Cochi has been pursuing the “perfect” monitor for most of his career. “I’m certain that anyone can successfully mix on almost any pair of monitors if they really learn them,” he said. “I have a pair of NS-10s that I still jump to because I know how to mentally compensate for their response… but it’s a weird way to work! You have to know that things are ‘right’ when for example the vocal sounds too loud, the guitars are too far forward, and the bass and drums are getting a bit lost! Long story short, I went through all of the big name monitors and found what I was looking for in the ATC SCM25As. They’re awesome. I’m able to make the song sound the way I want it to sound – no mental compensation – and when it sounds right on the ATCs, it will sound right on everything else.” Cochi recorded and mixed two projects each for Floodwood, Shasta Flock, and The Original Crooks and Nannies on his SCM25As.
For his post work, Cochi would have loved to add three more SCM25As to his control room, but he couldn’t justify the price tag. His first impulse was to use the industry standard monitor that he was accustomed to from his live sound work in broadcast trucks. “I quickly learned that although it was fine enough for three-hour stints in the truck, the ear fatigue was killing me after a full day in the studio,” he said. “Then I learned about ATC’s new passive SCM12s. Since I’ve really come to trust ATC and because these would be a different kind of speaker – two-way versus three-way and passive versus active – I was excited about the idea of having the SCM12s not only for a 5.1 setup but also for another stereo music reference.”
After consulting colleagues, Cochi took the plunge and purchased five ATC SCM12s without ever having heard them. He paired them with a Bryston 9B five-channel amplifier and his existing ATC C6 subwoofer. He then got to work on ABC’s four-episode Colgate Skating Series, a production that involved live music and live skating and with which he had been involved from the start. Cochi works with the skaters on the music editing and records the live performance. This season included performances by the Goo Goo Dolls, Dan + Shay, and other big names. When Cochi takes the tracks back to his studio, he mixes them from the ground up.
“Not to be too dramatic, but it was a night and day difference with the new ATC SCM12s,” he said. “It was a completely different experience and everything that I had hoped for. The equalization and dynamics for this show are pretty crazy, because I’m trying to get voice-over and music to coexist with crowd responses and the sound of skates on ice – all from a recording where live music was blasting from a full-blown PA the whole time! I never questioned what I was hearing and after I had mixed a decent segment, I took it around to my laptop, my TV, and everything was sitting just where I expected it to sit.”
He continued, “There wasn’t any learning curve – even though the SCM12 is a two-way box, the famous ATC sound was there. The top is smooth and extended, the mids are accurate, and I was also impressed by their bass response; when I muted the sub, I still had plenty of low-end information with which to make decisions. I know it’s pretty rare, and maybe a little reckless, to buy five monitors without ever having heard them, but it turned out to be a solid decision.”